Please join us for our January Coffee Hour that will feature Mariane Hedegaard, Copenhagen University. Mariane will be talking with us about the challenges of creating early childhood education that prepares children for elementary school without allowing standard schooling practices to undermine the centrality of exploration and play. Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont, University of Neuchâtel, and Antti Rajala, University of Eastern Finland will be present to lend their expertise to the discussion.
Early Childhood Education is a topic that connects very directly to an acute crisis in the way the foundations of school-based/classroom-based learning are currently practiced– different visions/commitments to their ideals of future adult community members. Put starkly, there is an ongoing struggle between creating defenders of current, “evidence based” practices and those who are seeking to create future innovators capable of meeting the seemingly intractable challenges of current that confront our societies and our species. As a social institution, early childhood is where the State arranges the future so that the twigs are bent in the direction that the status quo requires. Creating model alternatives is the task that our guest discussants are engaged in.
Children’s Exploration as a Key in Children’s Play and Learning Activity in Social and Cultural Formation (Hedegaard, 2020)
Building Cultures of Compassion for Children, Teachers and Families. A Critical and Context-Sensitive Lens (Kurian & Rajala, in press)
To be notified of comments on this post and keep updated on the discussion, click the subscribe button below.
We are encountering problems with the discussion forums and are working to fix them. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org you are having trouble contributing.
this is only a test…
I will briefly share my yesterday’s comment on Mariane Hedegaard’s text.
I think exploration is a wonderful new concept that escapes the cognitivist baggage of some of similar alternatives, such as inquiry, which are used in education. Exploration seems to naturally merge intellectual pursuits with hands-on activities. As we know from research on for example scientists and artists: science-making or art-making do not only happen in the head but involve physical exploration, too. Here, theoretically, exploration can work as a sort of boundary object between CHAT and some new directions in research, such as posthumanism and new materialism, which are quite common among Nordic researchers of early childhood education. There are some CHAT researchers who incorporate such new perspectives in their theoretical frameworks, and I think these advances are important to embrace the full complexity of what it means to be and grow as a child, entangled in human and more-than-human assemblages.
I appreciate Mariane’s attempt to reconceptualize core processes of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), as the field is called in the Nordic countries. In my own work with colleagues (with Lasse Lipponen, Jaakko Hilppö, Annukka Pursi, Anna Rainio, Juhana Rantavuori, and others) – such as in the paper with Nomisha Kurian that was included in the reading materials for the session – we have taken on the work of reconceptualizing the care part of ECEC. Our conceptualization of cultures of compassion escapes the common conservative ideas of care that are associated with maternal care of children. Our expansion of the concept recognizes that in care events/compassionate acts, there are always more people involved than just the person who gives care and the one who receives it. Children can be active participants in a culture of compassion as both receivers, givers of care, as bystanders, etc. We can then start to think about initiatives to pool resources and deliberately design for organized and distributed acts of compassion/care in the ECEC units, as well as involve the children’s families. As in our paper, we can then start to recognize that acts of compassion include socio-culturally determined interpretations of other people’s needs and the best ways to address them. These acts are also embedded in socio-historically conditioned power relations.
Thus, when we reconceptualize the core processes of ECEC, such as exporation and care, it is important to recognize the potential ethno/euro-centric bias in our core concepts. There is certainly more work to do in this respect, which touches upon the efforts to decolonize our theoretical heritage. But I think that Mariane’s concept of exploration takes important steps in this direction and in the paper she discusses past radically local projects with indigeneous communities in her chapter. I raised the question to what extent exploration is culturally constituted in its content, form and function?
Finally, I raised the point of the relationship between notions of care and exploration. To what extent, care is featured in the concept of exploration, such as in caring about the environment and its inhabitants (e.g., fellow explorers) which and with whom the children explore?
TO BE CLEAR:
You are welcome to join us having just read the paper: This conversation is for all in our community, even and especially if you were not at the talk! Beth
I am testing since people have reported technical problems
I can see your message, and have no problems posting myself.
It seems to work for you and I but not for all. Three persons reported the same error message.
Test back at ya! I see your post and seem to be able to post.
I think this was a very important discussion for the goal that Cultural Praxis shares with many at the talk, which is to help the children play and explore (and so us all, as a species, to survive).
When I spoke to my doctoral students later that day — all of whom are teachers, at CUNY they keep teaching as they study — I told them about the talk and that the last comments was, if I remember correctly, that we must work with the teachers.
I am really grateful for this important discussion and would like to think more about this together, here in this chat.
Please post what you would like to discuss Or discuss my comment, above : ) !
**Before typing a comment please click the upper left “Subscribe” arrow above the word “notify” — after you log in following the simple instructions on the home page — and make sure it says “Notify of new follow-up comments” before you click the blue arrow to the right.
Do not be shy to write, not matter your sense of your status in the community — we have work to get done and the more of our voices that are included, the better!
Unfortunately, due to technical reasons we could not record the video and post it here. However, let’s try to go around the technical obstacles and to reproduce and continue our interaction here in a written form! And this invitation is for everyone to contribute (not only those who joined the Zoom session).
To facilitate that discussion, I’ll attach the comments that the participants wrote to the chat. They may not be completely understandable without the verbal interaction that they were intended to comment, but hopefully will give a taste of our discussion yesterday.
including my paper: Stetsenko, A. (2020). Research and activist projects of resistance: The ethical-political foundations for a transformative ethico-ontoepistemology. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 26.
Relating to Mariane’s works quite directly
And a feeling and acting being!
Sutton-Smith’s last book is about that: Sutton-Smith, B., Phillips, C. L., Adams, G. R., Eberle, S. G., & Hogan, P. (2017). Play for Life: Play Theory and Play as Emotional Survival: The Strong.
The social aspect of play is often under-appreciated – what children learn in play about how people are (and can be) with each other, how social interactions work and how they are influenced by cultures
That’s happening in most large school districts in preschools. Content is taking over and didactic teaching. The play they do is an aside. It’s very sad.
I think part of the problem is that our voices are disconnected; there needs to be more coordination for the message about THE VITAL ROLE OF PLAY to get across
Unfortunately defining play in school districts and then vital role of play. I guess at the same time.
Making our points heard is also about conflict of values at the political level.
Our Nordic colleagues are better than we are at that political game !
we can and should complain about policy making but also need to do our part better – including framing the core message louder and clearer, as a collective voice
Dear participants, sorry entering late and now leaving early this very interesting conversation. I’m right middle of fieldwork in Sami ECE in Norway. This conversation would had been very actual what we’ve been talking with these wonderful professionals here in our research kindergarten. Hope to join next time with better Schedule.
Defining play is always problematic because it is highly context specific – definitions depend on concepts which can be understood and agreed by a multitude of people in a multitude of different contexts but the ‘meaning’ of any particular play activity may not lend itself well to being understood outside the context (cultural as well as physical) in which it takes place
that’s exactly our part, where our responsibility lies, Ros
to work with and through this complexity too, I mean
one has to think of the parents as well. Many of them especially for disadvantaged backgrounds see preschool at a way for their children to be ready for school.
what is reality, exactly
(I am sorry I will also have to leave soon, but it has been a pleasure to listen to all these reflections, even reading comments in the chat… Thank you!!)
just this little question about reality – but it has to be engaged
It is not about complaining Anna it is about engaging policy makers in the experience of play and in the perspective of the child, for example – and sharing our experiences on doing so
I agree Anna but it is very difficult to challenge the push to make play ‘effective’ in a rathe rnarrow way – getting children to perform better in tests!
complaining has its part, my message is not about this
Rod, I agree with your sense of where the tensions are: on the ground in the classroom where teachers are caught with figuring out the boundaries of safe and productive imaginary play, and what is out of bounds. The many cultural, racial and linguistic communities in an urban school district like chicago makes for an endlessly complicated effort to win a place for imaginary play in school that teachers feel comfortable supervising and nurturing
I think I get your message 🙂
Laure – my message is that we need to do our part better, as a collective voice. This is the foundation to influence policy
Anne-Nelly Perret Clermont
this conversation reminds me of Alain Chabat’s movie on babies ’s experience and play across material contexts: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1020938/
A gret film!
note that I was not giving my answers, only wanted to draw attention to QUESTIONS
It has to be part of a group of teachers in a right to play movement in Preschools in Newark Public Schools NJ as well as Chicago. At the moment they are pressured into an ironically named curriculum called Creative Curriculum. They are concentrating on getting data which doesn’t mean much to keep up with the demands of the supervisors. That’s what’s happening now.
the question about what is reality – especially urgent NOW given that “all that is real melts in the air” kind of…
Anna, « This is the foundation to influence policy » is part of the answer. But as Marianne said in her paper, few changes have been seen, and sometimes not in the best direction. So we also need to build interventions with policy makers so that they can experience physically, emotionally the child’s perspective – this is my very simple point, complementing yours.
there is no disagreement on this, Laure.
I am talking about doing our part better
we have glaring gaps in our conceptions…Smth to deal with as a community
Thank you all for the fascinating and comforting discussion ! A lot to do on all sides ! Warm regards to all, I have to take care of children now
Right to play — right to live —
3 mass shooting in just 3 days in California
oh yes, Chicago…
Many inspiring ideas and recommendations. As a newcomer to the discussion, I was particularly drawn to comments about early childhood education as a field of practice as well as a field of scholarship. On the latter, my sense is that the field lacks coherence, although as Mike said, Marianna’s model is a step in that direction. It would help the field move in a positive direction to have clearer frameworks and models. Vygostky and Piaget were not primarily interested in ECE. The field needs its own theory, I would think.
I think Mike is right that the question of how we embody the model in our work is right. I think we need to work with the teachers. How to really do this in a robust way?
very true, David. This resonates with what I was saying, you see this, right?
and pay attention at what the economic priorities are, as reflected at WEF just now: new modes of SURVEILLANCE
google it, its stunning
In my research in Bangladesh with Rohingya refugee children I have met researchers who are assessing ‘learning through play’ programs that are meeting the challenge of gathering empirical evidence in challenging contexts – ie, mega refugee camps – – including within cultures where the idea of learning through play is not a traditional practice. Thanks all for this – I have another meeting to run to, all the best, Tara
Here is the link to factsheet re above: https://www.sesameworkshop.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/lego-fact-sheet.pdf